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Cambridge campaigners launch legal action against Mill Road Bridge closure

Campaigners are seeking a judicial review of Cambridgeshire County Council’s decision to close Mill Road Bridge in Cambridge.

The council has announced it plans to close the bridge to most private cars in October following an earlier decision made by the county council’s highways and transport committee in March this year.

The authority hopes the restrictions will encourage people to choose ‘sustainable travel options’, such as cycling and walking as any unauthorised vehicles crossing the bridge will receive a fine.

Now, the Friends of Mill Road Bridge have begun a legal process to attempt to reverse the decision by the county council.

A spokesperson for the campaign group said: “This closure is not wanted and it is not needed. We are unable to discuss the grounds on which we will base our legal action at this stage because we do not want to prejudice any legal case.”

The plans have divided people in the area, with disputes raised over whether the bus gate will benefit or negatively impact businesses.

A number of exemptions are planned for the closure, including for buses, cyclists, pedestrians, taxis, blue badge holders and authorised vehicles, such as emergency services.

However, there was confusion during the committee meeting in March over whether Blue Badge holders would be able to nominate a carer’s car to be exempt from charges if the badge holder was not in the vehicle - for instance when a carer was travelling to help them. The committee heard that this would be possible before councillors voted to accept the bridge closure. Later this turned out to have been incorrect.

Campaign group Mill Road 4 People, which was in favour of the new bus gate, said: “We are very pleased to have a confirmed date for the bus gate on Mill Road bridge. While we are disappointed that it has taken longer than we would have liked, we are confident that it will lead to a much pleasanter, safer Mill Road.

“We understand that planning for streetscape improvements will begin once the bus gate is in place. MR4P has put forward a raft of ideas, from ‘quick wins’ such as disabled parking bays, parklets, cycle parking, and planting to longer-term aims such as covered seating areas, additional zebra crossings, and a wider pavement on the north Petersfield section. We call on the council to be ambitious in its vision for Mill Road.”

The closure follows a consultation which the highways and transport committee heard showed that 72 per cent of respondents supported restricting motor vehicles from crossing Mill Road bridge.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “The Mill Road Bridge Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) has been made and sealed as per the required statutory process. We have notified objectors and published the order. This has been done as the implementation date has been confirmed (October 16), design work is now largely complete, and work is scheduled to start in September. Further information about the work will follow in due course.”

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